Frequently Asked Questions

PERITONEAL MESOTHELIOMA

If I have an asbestos related Peritoneal Mesothelioma, does that mean that asbestos was in my stomach?

A: Yes. In fact, there have been reported cases in which actual asbestos fibers have been found at the tumor site in the peritoneal cavity. Further, the main trade that peritoneal mesothelioma has been associated with is that of insulators. Because insulators (often called 'asbestos workers') used asbestos insulation, including pipe covering, block and cement, on a daily basis, their profession has the highest incidence of peritoneal mesothelioma.

Q: Have there been studies on asbestos in the Peritoneum?

A: Dr. Yutaka Suzuki of the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, one of the world's foremost pulmonary pathologist and experts on mesothelioma, has analyzed tissues including peritoneal tissue, the pleura and even mesothelioma tumor and has demonstrated chrysotile asbestos in those tissues.

Q: How does asbestos get to the lining of the stomach and cause Peritoneal Mesothelioma?

A: There are several models that suggest the answer to this often posed question:

1. We know that our lungs have built-in defense mechanisms called the mucociliary escalator, which attempt to expel foreign particles from the lungs and from the respiratory tract. Asbestos can be inhaled into our lungs, which can in turn be successful in expelling them. The asbestos is then coughed up or expectorated and then swallowed in the GI track, and that is one way which asbestos fibers can make it to the peritoneal, peritoneal cavity.

2. Asbestos fibers can be cleared from the lungs and translocate into the drainage system of the body with lymphatics which take them away until they get to a node or get somewhere else where they become lodged or impaled in the tissue. We know that happens because we see on autopsy asbestos fibers in remote places of the body, such as the brain. Though this is not to suggest that asbestos causes brain cancer, but merely an example of how asbestos can be inhaled and find its way to other places like the peritoneum. Thus, we know that lymphatics are a way of translocation of asbestos fibers.

3. We know that the asbestos fibers are microscopic, they're very small, they're very sharp and that they can penetrate tissue. We know from studies that asbestos fibers are -- can easily penetrate the wall of the intestine. We know that the asbestos fibers have been found in peritoneal mesothelioma tissue. We know that asbestos fibers have been found in the tissue on the chest wall, okay, how would it get there? It wouldn't get there through the lung, it obviously translocated from the lung to those areas.

Q: How does asbestos cause peritoneal mesothelioma?

A: Experts, such as Samuel Hammar, a world renowned expert who sits on the U.S. Canadian mesothelioma panel has opined that asbestos fibers, including chrysotile, have the ability to disrupt the human DNA, disrupt the normal cell growth. They can penetrate cells and cause chromosomal abnormalities. Asbestos fibers are cyto-toxic, which means they can penetrate cells and kill them. Chrysotile has the ability to affect the body's defense mechanisms on a chromosomal level, such as the P-53 tumor suppression gene, which is essentially a protective mechanism that causes abnormal cells to die. Just as the pleura of the lung and the chest wall is composed of a serous, membrane of mesothelial cells, the peritoneum is also lined with that same serosal membrane of mesothelial cells. A disruption of these cells has been stated to cause mesothelioma.

Q: How do we know that asbestos causes peritoneal mesothelioma?

A: One simple way to look at the issue is that of biological plausibility. Certainly, if chrysotile has the ability to get to the peritoneum where these same cells exist, many scientists would agree that it's very plausible that chrysotile can cause cancer of the peritoneum. Further, many studies have been done, including studies by defense experts such as Dr. Craighead, where experts were able to induce peritoneal mesothelioma in rats after a peritoneal injection of chrysotile asbestos. Other doctors, including Dr. Wagner, have done the same studies and determined that chrysotile was able to cause peritoneal mesothelioma in animals. Thus, we know asbestos can get to the peritoneum and we know asbestos can cause peritoneal mesothelioma if it gets there.